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NFL 2016: What To Look For: Divisional Playoffs
Here's what to look for during the Divisional Round of this year's NFL playoffs.
Top Seeds Typically Top Dogs
Since the NFL moved to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, No. 1 seeds in the NFC are 22-4 (.846) in the Divisional Playoffs. In the AFC, the No. 1 seed has compiled a 16-10 (.615) record.
Both No. 1 seeds are in action this weekend when the top-seeded DALLAS COWBOYS host the GREEN BAY PACKERS in the NFC and the No. 1-seed NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS face the HOUSTON TEXANS in the AFC.
Top Seeds in Divisional-Round Play Since 1990
|Year||AFC||Divisional Result||NFC||Divisional Result|
|1990||Buffalo||Defeated Miami 44-34||San Francisco||Defeated Washington 28-10|
|1991||Buffalo||Defeated Kansas City 37-14||Washington||Defeated Atlanta 24-7|
|1992||Pittsburgh||Lost to Buffalo 24-3||San Francisco||Defeated Washington 20-13|
|1993||Buffalo||Defeated L.A. Raiders 29-23||Dallas||Defeated Green Bay 27-17|
|1994||Pittsburgh||Defeated Cleveland 29-9||San Francisco||Defeated Chicago 44-15|
|1995||Kansas City||Lost to Indianapolis 10-7||Dallas||Defeated Philadelphia 30-11|
|1996||Denver||Lost to Jacksonville 30-27||Green Bay||Defeated San Francisco 35-14|
|1997||Kansas City||Lost to Denver 14-10||San Francisco||Defeated Minnesota 38-22|
|1998||Denver||Defeated Miami 38-3||Minnesota||Defeated Arizona 41-21|
|1999||Jacksonville||Defeated Miami 62-7||St. Louis||Defeated Minnesota 49-37|
|2000||Tennessee||Lost to Baltimore 24-10||N.Y. Giants||Defeated Philadelphia 20-10|
|2001||Pittsburgh||Defeated Baltimore 27-10||St. Louis||Defeated Green Bay 45-17|
|2002||Oakland||Defeated N.Y. Jets 30-10||Philadelphia||Defeated Atlanta 20-6|
|2003||New England||Defeated Tennessee 17-14||Philadelphia||Defeated Green Bay 20-17 (OT)|
|2004||Pittsburgh||Defeated N.Y. Jets 20-17 (OT)||Philadelphia||Defeated Minnesota 27-14|
|2005||Indianapolis||Lost to Pittsburgh 21-18||Seattle||Defeated Washington 20-10|
|2006||San Diego||Lost to New England 24-21||Chicago||Defeated Seattle 27-24 (OT)|
|2007||New England||Defeated Jacksonville 31-20||Dallas||Lost to N.Y. Giants 21-17|
|2008||Tennessee||Lost to Baltimore 13-10||N.Y. Giants||Lost to Philadelphia 23-11|
|2009||Indianapolis||Defeated Baltimore 20-3||New Orleans||Defeated Arizona 45-14|
|2010||New England||Lost to N.Y. Jets 28-21||Atlanta||Lost to Green Bay 48-21|
|2011||New England||Defeated Denver 45-10||Green Bay||Lost to N.Y. Giants 37-20|
|2012||Denver||Lost to Baltimore 38-35 (2OT)||Atlanta||Defeated Seattle 30-28|
|2013||Denver||Defeated San Diego 24-17||Seattle||Defeated New Orleans 23-15|
|2014||New England||Defeated Baltimore 35-31||Seattle||Defeated Carolina 31-17|
|2015||Denver||Defeated Pittsburgh 23-16||Carolina||Defeated Seattle 31-24|
Four of the five winningest franchises in postseason history -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots -- are in action in the Divisional Playoffs.
The AFC's No. 1 overall seed New England hosts Houston (8:15 PM ET, CBS) on Saturday night. On Sunday, Pittsburgh travels to Kansas City (1:05 PM ET, NBC) while Green Bay visits Dallas (4:40 PM ET, FOX).
The Steelers, who defeated Miami 30-12 in the Wild Card round, have 35 postseason wins, the most in NFL history. The Cowboys (34), Packers (33) and Patriots (29) rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in all-time postseason victories.
Most Postseason Wins in NFL History
|Team||W||L||Pct||Super Bowl Wins|
|Source: NFL *Play this weekend|
|Green Bay Packers*||33||21||.611||4|
|San Francisco 49ers||30||20||.600||5|
|New England Patriots*||29||19||.604||4|
The New England Patriots have made five consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship game, tying the 1973-77 Oakland Raiders for the longest streak of Conference Championship game appearances since the 1970 merger.
With a win against Houston on Saturday, the Patriots would become the first team since 1970 to advance to six consecutive Conference Championship games.
Most Consecutive Conference Championship Appearances since 1970
|Source: NFL *Play this weekend|
|New England Patriots*||2011-15||5|
Booming Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN had five receptions for 124 yards, including touchdown catches of 50 and 62 yards in the first quarter of the Steelers' 30-12 win over Miami in the Wild Card round. Brown became the first player in postseason history with two touchdown receptions of at least 50 yards in the first quarter of a game.
With 100 receiving yards on Sunday at Kansas City, Brown, who has at least 100 receiving yards in each of his past three playoff games, will join LARRY FITZGERALD (four) as the only players in postseason history to record four consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards.
Most Consecutive Playoff Games with at Least 100 Yards
|Source: NFL *Active streak ^Pro Football Hall of Famer|
|Larry Fitzgerald||2008||Arizona Cardinals||4|
|Antonio Brown*||2014-16||Pittsburgh Steelers||3|
|T.Y. Hilton||2013-14||Indianapolis Colts||3|
|Randy Moss||1999-00||Minnesota Vikings||3|
|Jerry Rice^||1988-89||San Francisco 49ers||3|
|Tom Fears^||1950-51||Los Angeles Rams||3|
Pittsburgh running back LE'VEON BELL had a franchise postseason-record 167 rushing yards with two touchdowns in the Steelers' 30-12 win against Miami in the Wild Card round, while Seattle running back THOMAS RAWLS rushed for 161 yards -- the highest single-game rushing total in team postseason history -- and one touchdown in the Seahawks' 26-6 win over Detroit last week.
Only five different running backs in playoff history have recorded 300 rushing yards over a two-game span in a single postseason.
At least 300 rushing yards over a two-game span in single postseason
|Source: NFL *Through Wild Card round ^Pro Football Hall of Famer|
|Terrell Davis||1998||Denver Broncos||366|
|Marcus Allen^||1983||Los Angeles Raiders||345|
|John Riggins^||1982||Washington Redskins||325|
|Natrone Means||1996||Jacksonville Jaguars||315|
|John Riggins^||1982||Washington Redskins||306|
|John Riggins^||1982||Washington Redskins||304|
|Freeman McNeil||1982||New York Jets||303|
|Le'Veon Bell*||2016||Pittsburgh Steelers||167|
|Thomas Rawls*||2016||Seattle Seahawks||161|
Houston linebacker WHITNEY MERCILUS recorded two sacks in the Texans' 27-14 Wild Card win over Oakland.
With two sacks against New England on Saturday, Mercilus, who has five sacks in his past two postseason games, would have the most sacks over any three-game span in postseason history.
Most Sacks Over Any Three-Game Playoff Span
|Source: NFL *In past two postseason games ^Pro Football Hall of Famer|
|Richard Dent^||1984-85||Chicago Bears||6.5|
|LaMarr Woodley||2008||Pittsburgh Steelers||6.0|
|LaMarr Woodley||2007-08||Pittsburgh Steelers||6.0|
|Kevin Greene^||1988-89||Los Angeles Rams||6.0|
|Richard Dent^||1985||Chicago Bears||6.0|
|Whitney Mercilus*||2015-16||Houston Texans||5.0|
Three For Three
Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN ranked second in the NFL with 38 passing touchdowns during the 2016 season, including seven games with at least three touchdown passes.
With three touchdown passes against Seattle on Saturday, Ryan, who has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his past two playoff games, would become the sixth quarterback in postseason history with at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games.
Most Consecutive Postseason Games with at least 3 TD Passes
|Source: NFL *Active streak|
|Tom Brady||2014||New England Patriots||3|
|Joe Flacco||2012||Baltimore Ravens||3|
|Aaron Rodgers||2009-10||Green Bay Packers||3|
|Kurt Warner||2008-09||Arizona Cardinals||3|
|Bernie Kosar||1987, 1989||Cleveland Browns||3|
|Matt Ryan*||2012||Atlanta Falcons||2|
Kansas City quarterback ALEX SMITH has thrown for 1,309 yards with 11 touchdown passes and one interception in 186 postseason passing attempts.
Smith's 0.5 interception percentage is the lowest by a quarterback in postseason history (minimum 150 attempts). Dallas' TONY ROMO (1.1) and Green Bay's AARON RODGERS (1.6) rank second and fifth, respectively, in career interception percentage in NFL postseason history.
Lowest Playoff INT % (minimum 150 attempts)
|Source: NFL *In 2016 postseason|
|Alex Smith*||San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs||0.5|
|Tony Romo*||Dallas Cowboys||1.1|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints||1.3|
|Bart Starr||Green Bay Packers||1.4|
|Aaron Rodgers*||Green Bay Packers||1.6|